Introduction: True Whispers: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers (03:27)
Children were punished if they spoke the Navajo language and referred to as savages. The soldiers were told not to speak at all. Thomas Begay, Larry Foster, and Sidney Bedoni served in the 382nd Platoon stationed in San Diego during World War II.
Navajo Reservation (02:51)
Parts of the reservation exist in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Sacred living mountains include Dibe' Nitsaa, Sisnaajinii, Dook o'stild, and Tsoodzit. Experts believe the Navajo are descended from the Anasazi cliff dwellers; during the Long Walk, the people were forced off their land and interned for four years.
Treaty Reached (03:47)
The Navajo agreed to give up a large portion of their landholdings. Children were forced to attend a government school to assimilate and were punished for speaking their language. Peter Macdonald ran away at age 10
Great Depression Erupted (02:31)
The government mandated the slaughter of the Navajo's sheep and other livestock; poverty and starvation increased. After Pearl Harbor was attacked, the Japanese Army established an elite force of English speaking soldiers to intercept American military orders. Philip Johnston broached the idea of using a Navajo code in 1941.
Establishing Navajo Code Talking Unit (05:47)
The American government reached out to the Navajo people to ask for assistance. Most Navajo did not possess a birth certificate. During the protection way ceremony, those who were going into the armed services were purified, prayed over, and given memorabilia.
Entering Boot Camp (03:12)
A pilot program was established with 29 soldiers. Commanding Officer George T. Hall commended the recruits' performance. The Navajos devised codes in their native language that could be translated into Morse Code; upon graduation, most were transferred to Camp Pendleton.
The Navajo recruits assigned words to the officers' names, places, and terms. Each member memorized three different sets of each code to avoid repetition. The world for egg meant bomb.
Shipped Out (04:21)
Placed in pairs, the code talkers were assigned to different divisions and were instrumental to the military victory during the battle of Guadalcanal. Field commanders began to request their own code talkers. These Navajo soldiers aided in military incursions at Bougainville, Saipan, Papua, Solomon Islands, and Tarawa.
Battle of Iwo Jima (08:22)
Iwo Jima would provide a landing and refueling area to bomb Japan directly. Every morning before D-Day, Sam Billison prayed. The Japanese fortified the island with additional troops and created underground passages; code talkers transmitted close to 800 messages.
Service in Every Campaign (03:37)
Ten code talkers were killed during World War II. The Japanese were never able to crack the code created by the Navajos. Veterans did not receive adequate attention from the U.S. Government.
Killing Another (02:44)
Veterans discuss why they had difficulty participating in the war due to spiritual beliefs. Medicine men help restore soldiers during the Enemy Way Ceremony.
Maintaining Secrecy (04:22)
The government elected to keep the code talkers' actions classified for the next two decades. President Ronald Regan declared a day for the code talkers. The veterans were awarded gold and silver congressional medals at the United States capitol.
Unfulfilled Treaty (07:17)
Tribes are still fighting for water, hunting, and fishing rights. Navajos are struggling in poverty. The code talkers march in the annual Navajo parade.
Credits: True Whispers: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers (01:07)
Credits: True Whispers: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers
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